Hi All, 

I'm looking to build a fixed win drone for mapping small fields and was wondering if anyone has any suggested air frames / parts lists that have really worked for them. I was thinking about a skywalker 1880 or an X-8 (although one reviewer I talked to did not think the X-8 was good for mapping). Anyway, I'm hoping to be able to build and use it next semester.

So, what are you guys flying that has worked for you?



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For build:

New Skywalker 2013 1880mm or 2014 model (both, carbon fiber tail boom) they has more room for sensors (Cam).

Skyhunter is VERY good also.

For BEST Ready To Fly solution:


There are going to be many answers to this question. I can only say what works for me after testing several options.
One of the classic, proven camera planes, with flying characteristics that keeps the camera pointing down even in gusty winds, and robust enough to last through multiple seasons of rough landings, is the Zephyr II from RitewingRC.
The Skywalker from Event38 (they call it the E382) is a good RTF option for mild wind conditions, and one of the easiest planes to launch and fly.
If you need to carry a heavier payload than a typical point and shoot camera, you can consider a RitewingRC Spade, or an X8 (maybe the new Skywalker with the wider payload space will work well, but I have not had a chance to test it yet).
All of these designs have been proven to work, but if I had to choose just one it would be the Zephyr.
Planes to avoid include the X5 (it wallows in wind gusts due to the winglet design), and the Bormatec Maja (flies like a bus and needs extensive modification to be reliable).

The Wings Maker Ogar ARF.  Gobs of room, and flies great.  Comes with pretty good motor and servos too.  

Thanks for the input guys, much appreciated. I don't know what I'm going to do yet (so if anyone has other suggestions please keep them coming) but starting next semester I hope to build a UAV for agricultural mapping with some students. So thank you for contributing!

Not wanting to complicate things, but I have had quite good results with the X5 from day 1, even in 25 - 30 mph turbulent winds at coastal sites. Weren't the stability issues down to the early model which has since been redesigned?

Richard, if they corrected the stability problems the X5 could make a great smaller-size platform. The model I have was purchased from Hobbyking about 6 months ago, and it still suffers from a pronounced wobble in unstable air. Do you know when the changes were made and where the newer model can be obtained?

Check out the TechPOD also, www.hobbyuav.com

What are the important milestones? Endurance, speed, agility?

For me I want it to map a field so it needs to be stable, I imagine, and have the flight time to cover the field. Also, as an aide, is there any reason to go with the pixhawk over APM 2.5/2.6 for mapping? And, if I can ask one more question, I see some folks doing mapping with 'copters. Is there a good reason to go that route over a plane? Thanks - Jim


The difference between a glider and a quadcopter is the agility and endurance. A significant amount of the quadcopters thrust is expelled into a vector opposing its weight. This makes for a very energy inefficient means of flying. Remember a glider has a lift vector which is a by product of its forward velocity. On the other hand a glider cannot hover of an area like a quadcopter and another pass would need to be done. I would think its a question of how long would you need to capture a frame and in what detail? Also does your rig do all its image processing onboard? Pixhawk is the new and improved flight controller and has more IO's for other device and it all depends what needs to be integrated. Im sure there are more experienced flyer in this forum who can comment on what im just said. :)


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